Although an upended economy became commonplace in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the halibut market price sets this year’s pricing apart from declines in past years.
As the season began in mid-March, in conjunction with the national shutdown, flattened markets were to be expected. Unlike past years, where the first fish of the season garnered attention from high-end buyers and generated high prices during the Lenten season, halibut stalled.
Like many types of seafood, the bottom-dweller did not immediately make its way to the dinner table. Instead, a significant amount of the seafood caught this year only saw the inside of global freezers during a backlog caused by stalled air traffic.
Did COVID-19 Affect the Halibut Market Price?
In short, yes. Prices to fishermen plummeted in early 2020. Alaska’s share of the 2020 halibut catch is about 17 million pounds. That extends to 2,000 fishermen who hold shares. However, less than 50 landings were made in the first week, totaling only 262,000 pounds.
Homer, AK reported their preliminary price reports at $4.20 to $4.40 per pound. The reports reveal a sharp decline from the 2019 average statewide price of $5.30 per pound. Prices did vary throughout the state early this year, with Wrangell reporting $3.50 “across the board.”
Certain areas did make out better than others. These particular areas included Southeast ports, with regular air freight service. The ports boasted the highest halibut market prices, ranging from $5, $4.75 and $4.50 per pound.
Uncertainty due to the pandemic defined the way that Alaska processors bought halibut. Although some of the processors did not buy at all, others bought halibut in small amounts on consignment. There were also those who merely filled existing orders.
As of Sept. 12, the initial halibut market price for the week was set at $3.25. The price dropped $0.75 from where it stood at $4 on May 9.
How to Buy Halibut on a Budget
When it comes to buying halibut on a budget, the best way to avoid feeling intimidated or like you are overextending your bank account is knowing the best places to buy it. Even if the halibut market price rises, there are certain websites that offer the fish with reduced or free shipping.
One of these websites is Captain Jack’s Seafood Locker. The locally owned business in Seward, AK offers Wild Alaskan Halibut fillets for $29.99 per pound. Additionally, other packages include 10 pounds of their Gulf of Alaska Halibut fillets for $299.99. The set is packaged, boxed, and shipped via FedEx free shipping directly from their freezers. When visiting Captain Jack’s website, shoppers will also see the list price and the percentage that they are saving by ordering from the business.
Another website that offers free shipping is Sizzlefish. For the avid halibut lover, Sizzlefish is an ideal business to order from because all of their options include free shipping. The Wild Alaska Halibut costs $39.70 for 3.5 pounds, with a market price value of $138.95. The package is the perfect option for the intimate and socially distanced dinner party that you waited months to enjoy with your loved ones.
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